SpaceX on Wednesday for the fourth time launched an international crew of four astronauts from NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) on a science expedition to the International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX first carried out a crew rotation mission for NASA in 2020.
NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, were launched to the orbiting lab aboard a new Crew Dragon spacecraft a little after 3:52 a.m. EDT (1:22 pm IST) on Wednesday from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Crew-4 chose to name their flight “Freedom” to celebrate a fundamental human right and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit.
“Freedom takes flight! Three @NASA_Astronauts and one @ESA astronaut lifted off from @NASAKennedy aboard the @SpaceX Dragon Freedom,” NASA wrote on Twitter.
The agency added that the Crew4 is expected to reach the ISS “about 15.5 hours from now”.
During their time at the orbiting laboratory, the Crew-4 astronauts will conduct over 200 science experiments in areas such as materials science, health technologies, and plant science to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit life on Earth, said NASA, in a statement.
Experiments include studies on the aging of immune systems, organic material concrete alternatives, and cardiorespiratory effects during and after long-duration exposure to microgravity.
The Crew-4 astronauts are scheduled to conduct a pair of spacewalks to continue preparing the station for new solar arrays that will increase the station’s total available power supply.
They are expected to return to Earth in the fall of 2022, NASA said.